Here's what you need to know about credit and debit card fraud in South Africa

Woman withdrawing money at an ATM.
Woman withdrawing money at an ATM.

Like most people, I have had my wallet stolen. A few weeks ago I thought I lost my bank card and I immediately reported it and got a new one. I later found it but it was better to be safe than sorry especially because when I retraced my steps the possibility of my bank card being skimmed and someone accessing my account was very high. 

Credit and Debit Card fraud in South Africa is quite prevalent according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric). Sabric released a report that showed that debit card fraud in SA has increased quite significantly in comparison to 2016. 

Sabric acquired information from the various banks in South Africa to generate their stats. They also compared South African stats to the rest of the world and found that 46.1% of credit card fraud occurred in South Africa and a staggering 72.1% of debit card fraud occurred in South Africa. For more information, see below:  



While some of us have been fortunate not have been victims it is always important to remain alert and to arm yourself with knoweldge about card fraud and how to avoid losing your money. 

READ MORE: Should I really be this terrified of getting a credit card?

Deon Louw, Head of the Card, Payments,and Transactional Department at Nedbank acknowledges that card fraud is quite high both locally and internationally. He gives a 5 tips to keep in mind to avoid card fraud:

  • Never assume that your card has been retrained by an ATM or SST. Always contact your bank and request that the card be blocked immediately. A trapped or skimmed card can be used immediately so don't wait until you get home or to your office.
  • Shred your bank statements or any other financial information to prevent anyone from accessing this information.
  • Upgrade your cards to EMV (chip—enabled cards). Most POS devices in South Africa are EMV—enabled which will protect you from card skimming.
  • Always remember to read all messages that are sent from the bank. They might help you quickly detect what is happening to your bank account.
  • When shopping online, shop from a secure website and never send emails that quote your card number and expiry date.

There a number of other useful tips that can be found your current bank's website — which should be read as frequently as possible.

In addition there is a number of different types of card fraud that you should be aware of. This will help you detect card fraud on time so you can have your card blocked buy your bank. Here are the different types of card fraud as defined by Sabric:

Lost and/or stolen card fraud

This type of fraud happens when someone gets a hold of your bank card through theft or loss and makes a fraudulent transaction. This type of fraud is quite prevalent in South Africa and Sabric has noticed an increase in this type of fraud since 2013. 

READ MORE: VIDEO: What do people think of Black Tax? 

Not received issued card fraud (NHI)

This type of fraud happens when someone intercepts a genuinely issued card before it reaches the customer. Impostors then use intercepted cards fraudulently. There has been a decrease over the years of this type of fraud in South Africa because, "banks continue to improve their processes in respect of card collections and PIN activations," says Sabric.

False application fraud

This type of fraud happens when a fraudulent transaction is carried out on an account where the card was acquired by falsifying a credit application. A person in this case may apply for a credit using someone else's identity. This type of fraud accounts for 1.3% of overall fraud, however, it has seen in increase of 24.4% in the last year.

Counterfeit card fraud

Counterfeit card fraud occurs when "a card that has been illegally manufactured using information stolen from the magnetic strip of a genuinely issued card,"states Sabric." The information needed for a counterfeit card is usually stolen through card skimming."

READ MORE: Money advice for millennials who are struggling to save while paying off loans 

Card skimming via Point of Sale (POS) devices

Card skimming is the skimming of information on your bank cards using vPoint of Sale (POS) devices(similar to card machines at restaurants, retail stores etc). Card skimming can be done at ATM mounted devices and handheld device. SAbric reports that the first POS skimming device was retrieved in 2014.

Account takeover fraud

This type of fraud occurs when, "an existing account is taken over by someone posing as the genuine account holder, who then uses the account for their own benefit." This is usually done when a person gets access of your personal or client-specific information, and pretend to be you and then apply for a replacement card.

It is important to never lose sight of your credit or debit card even at restaurants explains Deon. Card fraud can happen within minutes and it is better to block your card when you can't find it before you lose all your hard earned cash. Also never share your pin, even with friends and family, says Deon.

If you want your account to be secure keep all your information private.  

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